Diary of a RunBrighton addict

Hey, I’m Tess.

I’m an ex-smoking, lazy arse-turned-fitness freak who’s (maybe a little too) obsessed with running.

It doesn’t come naturally to me and I have to work hard at it but I love the reward it brings. Even when it hurts and I just want to stop, nothing quite compares with the flood of endorphins I get from putting one foot in front of the other in the wonky way that I do.

I joined RunBrighton to train for my first marathon (Brighton 2014) and got hooked on the amazing social atmosphere and support and friendship from not only the ambassadors but also other runners.

This blog will be a weekly recap of my marathon training (plan provided by RunBrighton) and our long Sunday runs together.

The good, the bad, and the ugly. And trust me, with my hamstrings, it WILL get ugly!

If you fancy more of a nose into my world, I write a fitness blog
at and would love you to pop over.


9th March 2015

When the going gets tough…

What a stunningly beautiful run we had on Sunday, taking in all that lush rolling countryside under a sun-soaked, bright blue sky.

It’s pretty good to be alive, don’t you think?

I’m glad to be back on it after a couple of cutback weeks, one in prep for the half, and one to get over a post-PB cold that sapped my energy. Last week’s training went well and I managed to fit in four runs, a boxing fitness class (LOVED IT) and an upper body gym session.

Need to fit in yoga and leg strength work at the gym too so if someone could please pause time and let me get this all done that’d be great.

Bad Tess

For me, Sunday was a run of firsts. It ended up being my first sleeveless long run of the season, which I’m really excited about as we draw closer to the big day. Shorts or capris? Headband or no headband? Sunglasses or cap? Decisions…

It was my first long run where I didn’t have my water bottle, and therefore electrolytes, which didn’t excite me in the slightest, but I can’t tell if this was partly to blame for how it went for me or if it was psychological.

It was also the first run of the season where I felt pain, like real oh-my-God-I-can’t-do-this, legs-not-working, I-want-my-bed kind of pain. I got a reminder of what it felt like for me during the last six or so miles of the marathon last year – my heart was saying yes but my legs gave up long before we made it back home.

For a mile-by-mile account of how this went in my head, go to my blog to find out…

Staring at seven miles back the way we came down some of those inclines was just as painful if not more so than running up them on the way out. I’m alright on the hills, I can keep my head down and get on with it – run, plod or walk, it doesn’t matter.

What I can’t do though, is run, plod or walk comfortably downhill. And some of those steep inclines on the way out turned into the beastiest descents my knees have taken on in a long while.  Because the downs killed the knees, the ups on the way back were harder. And then came the blisters.

I knew it was gonna be a tough run. I also knew I wouldn’t get anywhere above 14-15 miles with those hills so I ran the three and a bit down to the café to meet everyone, and I may have left it too late to warm up and run a sensible pace to get there in time.

I also completely forgot to fuel properly, and only had two gels for a total of 3:15 of running. Bad Tess.

Miles banked

But… despite the pain, lack of sensible fuelling and marathon pace because my legs were ruined; along with the multiple ‘oh ffs’, and ‘I’m DONE!’s I literally shouted out loud when I got too annoyed with myself for giving up and walking again (sorry if anyone passed me and thought I was cursing them!), I’m happy to bank just over 17 miles.

It doesn’t matter how they happened, they’re in the bank, they’re mine, and you’re not having them back. The marathon’s not gonna be anything like that in terms of elevation and terrain so to be honest, if we can do that, we can do anything.

Watch out London

Next week I’m gutted to miss getting the train to Goring and running back, it sounds like such an adventure. Instead, I’m running the North London Half (at marathon pace or more, promise), and will be adding six or so miles on at the beginning to get to the start line from a friend’s house.

I’m really nervous about this as a) I dunno where I’m going and am gonna have to really plan the route make sure I have enough time to start the race, and b) I’ve gotta get back on the train afterwards, which means no ice bath, no hot bath, no foam rolling, no yoga. Might have to have a bit of a walk around London before going home or I’ll seize up.

I just hope there’s no stairs at the nearest tube station!

Good luck to those of you running back from Goring, and to those going to the Algarve… well. I’m not jealous at all, not one bit.

This week I’m trying to fit in three runs, one yoga class and two gym strength sessions.

I’ll let you know how that goes…

Follow more of my running and fitness escapades at


23rd February 2015

How lucky were we with the weather on Sunday?

Once again, the Running Gods came out in force for Brighton Half. The sun was high in the sky; the wind held out for most of it; and the rain came only once we’d fed and watered (or beered) ourselves in various pubs across the city.

It was the kind of race that makes me remember why I love to run so much.

For me, it was a great race. I had a very quiet week training-wise. With a lovely meal out with hubs for Valentine’s Day the previous Saturday, I didn’t make the RunBrighton run up to the Downs with everyone, (too much wine, shhh) so ventured out on my own for 15 miles along the clifftops to Peacehaven and back along the undercliff.

It was a slow and ploddy affair, the last few miles not all that comfortable, but I had the company of a good audiobook (Rivers of London, if you’re interested), and didn’t wanna stop running until the chapter I was on had finished.

My legs weren’t too happy with me after this run, so the week of easy runs to taper nicely for the half were reduced to one bfit Core class on Monday, and either walking or cycling in to work each day.

This kept me moving and gave me the rest I think I really needed, even though all week, with every knee twinge or hip niggle, I panicked that I wouldn’t be able to run the half comfortably, or at all.

The mind does funny things to a runner the night before a race, let me tell you. All reasoning goes out the window, never mind the nine weeks of training you’ve accumulated, you can’t possibly run 13 miles tomorrow for the third time in as many weeks…

The night before I spent a fair amount of time stressing out about my plan of attack, and set myself three targets (because you should never just have one in case of disappointment):

  • Sub 2. Optimistic but you’ve gotta aim high.
  • PB – anywhere under 2:09.
  • Marathon pace training run – if the above two go Pete Tong I would’ve been happy with this.

As me and hubs locked our bikes up and shuffled with the crowd down to drop our bags, I knew it was gonna be a great race. I could feel it. With perfect weather, amazing crowd support, and fellow RunBrightoners, BOSHers and other running buddies at every turn, it was a sure fire recipe for a PB if ever I saw one.

I did run it comfortably. I ran it pretty hard actually, and got a 7min PB to come in at 2:02:24, which I am so, so chuffed with. Close enough to two hours as well… I know I’ll get it soon.

Loads of other people got PBs and had a great race too, so a brilliant confidence boost for the big day in just six weeks. SIX WEEKS PEOPLE. If I remember rightly, last year I was broken after the half. I’m hoping it won’t be a repeat performance this time round as I’m feeling stronger and more prepared for the training to ramp up.

This week and the week after I’m back at RunBrighton for the Sunday long run, and on 15th March have the North London Half but am gonna add a few miles onto that one and do it at marathon pace. Pinky promise.

I will not go for sub 2… I will not go for sub 2… I will not go for sub 2…


8th February 2015

61 days to go until BM2015!!

Well hello Brighton, you beautiful thing.

Yesterday’s long run was a sure-fire recipe for endorphins if ever I saw one. Take one (flat – yay!) Brighton seafront, a rainbow of fluorescent runners and a sky so blue and bright you’d think it was a summer’s day – and yeah, I reckon that’s pretty magic.

After last week’s hilly run, a nice flat seafront affair was most welcome, as was the later start. I ran down to the hotel to add on a couple of miles so by the time we’d finished I’d ran just over half marathon distance.

Big thanks to Jay and Lucine (have I spelt your name right?) for keeping me going in that last stretch when I really wanted to drop back the pace, and hello to Elizabeth who ran with me for most of the way 🙂

My week of training this week has again been good but I’ve learnt a lesson about what my body can actually cope with.

Monday: REST
Planned threshold run turned into recovery run as legs said NO. Sports massage.
Wednesday: Bikram 7am + Gym strength & conditioning PM
Thursday: 60min progression run AM + Bikram PM
Friday: REST
Saturday: Continuous hills + a ploddy parkrun to recover
Sunday: RunBrighton long run – 13miles

I finally nailed fitting yoga into my schedule last week – this week’s focus will be getting to bed earlier!

Brighton Marathon Training Day – 61 days until BM2015!!

Yesterday was the third Brighton Marathon Training Day of the season at the Hilton Metropole Hotel. I love these training days as they’re a great opportunity to get training advice and tips from the pros and generally just geek out about running.

I already spend a lot of time annoying others with my incessant run chat so it’s nice to sit in the same room as a few hundred others who are just as into it as me.

Nick Anderson taunting us with this year’s medal…

Nick Anderson taunting us with this year’s medal…

Talks were given by Nick Anderson from RunningwithUs, Nick Morgan from A Word On Nutrition, Dawn Buoy from Body Rehab and Simon Jones from Saucony.

We went through injury prevention, nutrition and fuelling for the lead up to and including race day, getting the right shoes and kit, and how to get the most out of our training plans and midweek sessions.

Some key takeaway points for me below:


48hrs before race

  • Carb loading – add a little extra to each meal, don’t have one massive carb binge the night before the race.


  • Reduce complexity of pre-race meals – eat simple foods to avoid digestion issues.
  • Only eat what you’re familiar with.
  • Hydration – stay hydrated the day before – carry water with you. Tea and coffee counts but not on its own.
  • Sports drinks and smoothies are good to add in as extra fuel but go easy.

On race day

  • Stay focused on your own plan and not everyone else’s! Just because your friend is chowing down on ibuprofen and malt loaf 5mins out from the start doesn’t mean you have to. (Incidentally, leave the ibuprofen at home as it’s not good to take anti-inflams before you run anyway).
  • Space your breakfast out over the morning, don’t binge on peanut butter and bananas all in one go at 6am. Graze until the start line.
  • 500ml of water on the morning of the race is ample – knocking back 2litres is only gonna make you heavy and need the loo repeatedly.

During the race

  • Break the marathon down into 60min blocks.
  • Take one gel + a few swigs of sports drink (Hi5 and Gatorade on the course but take your own too).
  • One gel is equal to three shot blocks (my new favourite fuel).
  • Run with the gel for 10mins, don’t swig it back in one go.
  • Start fuelling 45mins into the race and continue until the last hour.



Nick Anderson opened the training talk with a simple question:

“Who in this room is a performance athlete?”

Not many of us put our hands up. But then he continued, do we want to be a better runner tomorrow than we are today? Of course we do.

So we’re all performance athletes. Beast mode, activated 🙂

Some key takeaways from Nick’s great talk:

  • Don’t become a crack addict to the training plan. Make it fit your life. If you miss a session, no one is going to die.
  • Look after yourself – strength and conditioning, massage, good shoes and diet, focusing on sleep. Basically everything I wrote in my blog last week about being kind to yourself during training.
  • Training – Nutrition – Rest. All as important as the other.

  • Your longest run should be 3-4 weeks out from race day. No more than 3.5hours with the last hour as marathon pace. Any longer than 3.5hours and you will see diminishing returns. You won’t recover on a cellular level.
  • Midweek training very important. Threshold runs build heart strength and boost running economy. Makes running at marathon pace easier.

2 weeks from race day

  • Lay off the hard sessions – you won’t get fitter or recover in time now.
  • Rest and taper – you can do this!
  • Believe that you’re ready.
  • Reduce volume but maintain frequency.
  • Focus on sleep.

24hrs before

  • Relax – stay off your feet as much as possible. Come to the expo but don’t spend all day there.
  • Warn family you will become an irrational human being.
  • Stay positive. Go for a very easy 10-15mins jog to turn the legs over.
  • Graze on carbs but don’t overdo it.

Race day

  • Be the gunslinger, not an apology. Be the one who believes in how good they are.
  • Don’t get cold at the start line and waste energy. Bring throwaway clothes or a bin bag.
  • Have your name on your vest so the crowd can cheer you. Line up your friends and family around the route – look forward to seeing them.
  • During the race:
    • Start slow and stay in control.
    • First 10k – fraction slower than marathon pace.
    • Middle 20k – run at planned marathon pace.
    • Last section – go to work. The marathon starts now.
    • Last few KM – chase the vest in front of you.

After the race

  • Eat what’s in the goody bag.
  • Then eat the goody bag.

Sound advice, I’d say, wouldn’t you?

Read more of my fitness ramblings at


Baby it’s cold outside

1st February 2015

Sundays have long been my favourite day of the week – even more so during marathon training. I’m a total early bird and do strangely love getting up in the dark over the winter to run or get to the gym.

Once I’ve stopped flirting with the snooze button, that is…

Today’s long run provided yet another demonstration of why I love Brighton so much. We’ve got the beach, the white chalky cliffs and the rolling hills of the South Downs – it’s a runner’s paradise.

On the menu this morning: a hilly, tough but beautiful two hour out-and-back from Roedean Café along Greenways and up on the Downs. I was wearing two pairs of gloves and my hands didn’t warm up until we got back down off the hills it was that cold.

Matt had us doing frantic star jumps and leg swings to warm up in the café carpark before we set off – I literally cannot tell you how freezing we all were!

Even though the wind sliced relentlessly at my face the rest of me soon warmed up and it was just so beautiful up there, with the crisp winter sunshine reflecting off the dusting of snow.

We never get proper snow down here, it’s not fair.

I’m running in the 4:30 pace group at the moment, and we made it to 10 miles, which I was happy with, given the hills. I’m itching to up the mileage more but I know there’s plenty of time and no point peaking too early.

The rest of my week’s training has been busy, and brilliant. It’s all going really well and I’m sort of waiting for something to go wrong…

Monday – bfit Brighton Core class

In an effort to fix my pitiful core strength I’m back at my weekly core classes with bfit. I wouldn’t do it on my own and one hour of controlled, focused work is more than enough for the day after the long run, thank you very much.

Tuesday – threshold run

A 45min run with 5x(5min efforts / 90secs recovery). My first threshold session outside in a while as I’ve been doing them on the treadmill at lunchtimes. Got it done before work and sat at my desk nice and smug all day.

Wednesday – gym AM + turbo PM

Beast mode activated for the morning weights session and legs ruined at the evening turbo class. Can’t believe how much you can sweat on a stationary bike!

Thursday – rest!

An accidental but very welcome rest day. Was supposed to do a 40min out and back with the second half 2-3mins faster, but things got in the way.

Friday – gym AM

Another weights session and early morning dose of pre-work endorphins.

Saturday – 45mins continuous hills + parkrun + bikram yoga

A bit of a workout binge here, I was left to my own devices for the day so took full advantage and had some me time.


RunBrighton long run – see above. More photos on the RunBrighton Facebook page.

Next week is another Brighton Marathon Training Day at the Hilton Hotel, so looking forward to that (and the hopefully flat RunBrighton long run!)

Tess x